Ecommerce: Understanding online buyers in 2021

Posted on Sunday 14 March 2021 | IAB UK

Research from our Real Living 2021 study shows how consumer behaviour is evolving in the ecommerce space and what this means for advertisers 

As part of our relaunched Real Living research, we’re delving into the area of ecommerce to understand how the pandemic has diversified the ecommerce audience - with older groups driving growth - and impacted behaviour among established shoppers. 

As Elizabeth Lane, IAB UK’s Head of Research and Measurement explains: “Retail has changed forever over the last year and as we begin to plan for life after lockdown now is the time for marketers to be establishing what their customer base looks like, what their priorities are and mindset is, and how best they can be reached.” 

The research provides a deep-dive into the behaviours are sentiment among heavy ecommerce users. Here are some of the key findings: 

  • Shopping online has increased during the pandemic - across both groceries and retail - and it will be sustained, with 57% agreeing that they don’t plan to reduce their shopping online once the pandemic is over 

  • Those aged 55+ have driven the growth across the four highest-growing ecommerce categories - with an overall increase in spend for food and drink; clothing and fashion; home and garden; personal care and beauty 

  • Social media and word-of-mouth being the key drivers for 16-34s, while older age groups are more likely to turn to retailers and online stores - 45% of 35-54s and 55% of 55+

  • Younger shoppers have turned to local retailers during the past year, with 62% of 16-34s saying they have bought more things online from local shops, while the same proportion of 25-44s are shunning chains in favour of independent retailers

Find out more about Real Living here


You must be a member of the IAB UK to view this content. If you are not a member you can find out more here.

Written by



Related content

James Chandler

Advertisers, ignore geriatric gamers and it's game over

Learn more
Abstract background

Real Living 2021: The key findings

Learn more

CTV Week: 5 things we learnt

Learn more
abstract background

Real Living: Understanding CTV viewers

Learn more

Rediscover the joy of digital advertising

Champion connections instead of clicks. Capture audiences' imaginations, not just their attention. Boldly move to your own beat instead of letting tech set the pace. It’s time to rediscover the joy of digital.